Sunday, October 25, 2009

Black Panthers Celebrate Bobby Seale's 73rd Birthday at Laney College

Today, Saturday, November 24, surviving members of the Black Panther Party gathered at Oakland's Laney College to celebrate the legacy of the BPP and co-founder Bobby Seale's 73rd birthday. The Laney College forum was filled with elder Panthers, social activists, students and youth, seeking the meaning of the legendary Black Panther Party that shook up Oakland, America and the world. Panther leaders included Bobby Seale, Emory Douglas, Big Man Howard, Melvin Dixson, Rev. Dixon, Frank Vellum, and others. Activists present were Yuri Kochiyama, Greg Morozumi, Ann Williams, Wanda Sabir, Refa 1, Clarence Thomas et al.

Bobby Seale was the keynote speaker and he gave a detailed history of the BPP, but letting the people know it was the rank and file who did the hard work, the many brothers and sisters history has forgotten or never knew who gave their sweat, blood and tears, indeed, their very lives in the cause of black liberation from American oppression.

In a conversation with a Laney College BSU member, Marvin X called for BPP elders and other senior activists to form the Elder's Council to address community issues, especially problems of street and partner violence. Why not set up an 800 number that people can call to for conflict resolution, rather than call 911 or resort to senseless violence. Let the elders meet to reconcile the matter. Youth should be able to call upon the Elder's Council for advice and wisdom. Elder Terry Collins noted that every elder should be assigned five youth to mentor and they should accompany elders in their daily round.

If elders made their presence felt on the street it would cause a decrease in violence, but too many elders are afraid of their own children so they say nothing for fear youth will disrespect them. We must cast away our fears and help our children. A youth passed me at my outdoor classroom downtown Oakland. His pants were sagging and I started to say something to him, but he apparently read my mind because before I could say anything he pulled up his pants and continued down the street. Sometimes it only takes a thought!

It was good to see Bobby Seale's mind is sharp as ever and his memory is impeccable.

We thank Billy X Jennings of It’s About Time and Melvin Dixon of the Commemorator for organizing the two day event.

--Marvin X

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